Smoking at Tamaqua's playgrounds may soon be a thing of the past. Councilman David Mace requested that the borough's solicitor prepare an ordinance prohibiting smoking at all of the playgrounds, including the North/Middle Ward, East End, South Ward, Willing Park, Bungalow Park, and Owl Creek Park. A few questions arose over the proposal, however, particularly concerning the borough owned ball fields at Rabbit Run and the baseball fields that are leased from the borough by the Tamaqua Area Baseball Association. "You can't smoke at the playgrounds, but you can smoke at the ball park?" asked Councilman Tom Cara. Solicitor Michael Greek said that such a stipulation would need to be included in the terms of the lease, and presently, it is not.
Resident Kathy Nunemacher said that she felt the ban should include all of the borough's properties, including the playgrounds, the ball fields, and places like Kellner's Dam. Mace clarified that he was starting with the playgrounds. Council president Micah Gursky asked Mace if he had discussed the proposal with the various playground associations. Mace said that the South Ward was already banning smoking, and he had discussed it with the North/Middle Ward and a representative from the East End playground and they were in favor of the ban. "I'm honestly not sure who to talk to about Willing Park or the Bungalow," he said. He added that he thought Owl Creek representatives would also be in favor of the proposal. It was noted that only the playground would be included, not the reservoir area at this point. Gursky was the lone negative vote to having Greek prepare the ordinance, saying that he enjoyed being able to smoke a pipe while at the playground.
In other business, council acted on a recommendation from HARC to approve the demolition of a garage. The move was questioned by resident Tony Rodrigue who asked what the criteria for the demolition were. "I was at the meeting. It's for the purpose of allowing handicap access? I didn't hear any evidence of a hardship. It doesn't seem to me that there was any evidence," he said. Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that the garage is not a "contributing structure" to the historic district. Gursky added that the HARC minutes indicated that the property was non-contributing.
Rodrigue said that it was not indicated at the HARC meeting whether or not it was on the roster as contributing or non-contributing. "I think any time we take down a building, it needs to be reviewed. The presentation took five minutes total. I don't think that's enough time spent," he said. Council ultimately approved the demolition of the garage and the installation of signs at two other properties.
Council heard a request from Eastern Schuylkill Regional Planning for $1500 to help complete the revisions to the ESP document that were necessary. The borough, along with Rush, Walker, and Schuylkill Townships, initially wrote a check for $1000 to complete the work in November. ESRP is requesting an additional $1500 from each of the contributing municipalities. The work, which was originally estimated to cost $4000, is now nearing $10,000. Gursky asked that the borough be able to review the documents and the changes before the payment is made.
Council approved a request from Charlotte Solt to install a convex mirror on River Street at the rear of 237 Center Street. They also approved a handicapped parking space application for 725 E. Broad Street. They denied handicap parking applications for 33 Hunter Street and 735 E. Broad Street, since those spaces would exceed the maximum number of spaces allowable per block. Councilman Dan Evans also proposed a revision to the handicap parking space policy that will exempt individuals possessing a severely disabled veteran or disabled veteran license plate or placard from paying any application or renewal fees. The motion was approved. Evans reminded applicants that parking space renewal applications will be due by April 17th.
Adrian Bumbulsky was hired as pool manager and Chelsea Jones was hired as the assistant pool manager for the 2012 season. Applications for pool passes are now available at borough hall and various lSteigerwalt asked council to consider an RFP for a consultant to help with the CDBG application process, including the reporting requirements, on an as needed basis. He indicated that he and Dan Schroeder are not completely versed in the technicalities required for the process, comparing their intricacy to the tax code. "We're looking for someone to not be as involved as they were in the past, someone we could call if we needed to, pay them an hourly rate," said Steigerwalt. The borough used to hire a consultant to handle the CDBG process. Gursky suggested that Steigerwalt contact the DCED with any questions and if he did not get a timely response, he should contact local legislators to help.
Steigerwalt said that the borough is also currently in the process of reviewing RFPs for the services performed by Code Enforcement Officer James Barron who retired at the end of March. Barron is still working for the borough on an as needed basis.